The big news for the 2005 FX35 and FX45 is a new option: a Lane Departure Warning system, or LDW. The system uses a small camera, speed sensor, an indicator and an audible warning buzzer to “read” the lines on the road and sound a warning if the vehicle strays out of its lane. (The system is programmed to stay silent if you’re crossing the line in order to make a turn.) It’s the first production car application of LDW in Canada.

Other 2005 changes include a rollover sensor, a standard tire pressure monitor system that was previously part of an option package, and a new cargo cover. The FX45 receives a new dark chrome grille, headlight and taillight accents, a new key fob design for the Intelligent Key system, and new standard etched aluminum trim.

The FX is based on the same platform as the Nissan 350Z and the Infiniti G35; although it has the same wheelbase as the G35, the FX is longer, taller and wider. Its on-demand all-wheel-drive system (which goes by the snappy name of ATTESA E-TS, or Advanced Total Traction Engineering System for All Electronic Torque Split) runs at 99 per cent rear wheel bias under most conditions; when slip is detected, up to 50 per cent power goes to the front wheels. As evidenced by their names, the FX35 is powered by a 3.5-litre V6; the FX45 receives a 4.5-litre V8. Both use a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with manual shift mode.

The FX35 comes with 18-inch, seven-spoke alloy wheels, automatic rear hatch closure assist system, four-wheel ventilated disc brakes, aluminum interior trim, heated ten-way power driver and eight-way power passenger seat, reclining rear seats with 60/40 folding split, six-CD Bose system with eleven speakers, dual-zone climate control, information display monitor, and three-spoke leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls.

The FX45 adds 18-inch, eight-spoke alloy wheels, sport suspension tuning, auto up/down on all windows, aluminum pedals and polished aluminum roof rails.

Beautifully designed, the FX has the tapering roofline and delightful proportions of the Porsche Cayenne or Volkswagen Touareg, but with a smaller price tag. Both engines do a fine job, but it would be nice if buyers who want the V8’s grunt could swap its twenty-inch wheels for the V6’s eighteens. The big wheels look fantastic, but like the princess and the pea, you feel every knot and bump in the asphalt, especially when combined with the sport suspension. And if you think the tires are big, wait until you see the bill to replace them.

The FX’s sloping roofline means that it only holds two rows of seats, and there isn’t a great deal of cargo space for the vehicle’s size, although the rear seats fold to take in oversized items. The FX45 is wonderfully fast, and on both models, the brakes are rock-solid and the handling is superb. The new Lane Departure Warning system can be ordered as part of a Technology package, along with a navigation system, intelligent cruise control, rear-view monitor system, intelligent key and DVD mobile entertainment system. The folks at Infiniti are justifiably proud of the work that’s gone into the LDW; the cynic thinks they should have just put in a hand that slaps you and tells you to put the cell phone down and concentrate on your driving.

The FX35 and FX45 are built in Kanagawa, Japan.

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